7 Things Sustainable School Leaders Do During Winter Break (w/ Video)

So you have 2 weeks off, but what should you do with your time? After 15 years in schools, and 8 as school leader, I have perfected how to spend my winter break, to make sure I’m ready to rumble when school is back in session. Here are 7 things to consider doing during your time off.

I made it!

I’m hella tired. After a sprint week that fit enough for a marathon, I’m so ready to relax. We had music concerts, arts and crafts, door decorating, a staff/student basketball game and I managed to fit in a major federal audit. Oh my, I was tired at the end. It didn’t. Feel like break until 2 days later!


Over the last few years, I’ve done it all. A trip to Japan. A week in the snow. Moving between apartments. Short days trips. Packing in more work. Even trying to read 2 whole books. All were good uses of time but, the question is: what is the best use of time? What will get me ready to ma first my vision? Here’s my 7 tips for making the most of your winter break.

If you prefer the video version of this post and some more thoughts, peep the YouTube channel and corresponding visual blog post below:


Let’s be real for a moment. It hasn’t always been so bright and cheery. Previous years like last one, I wanted to quit. Big time. I was reflecting on 10 questions, like “Do I still want to be a Principal?” as I contemplated throwing in the towel.

Do I still want to be a principal - Culturally Responsive Leadership

But this is year, it’s a happy story, so let’s get to the list!

7 Things Strong Leaders Do During Break



1) Rest, Relax, and Rejuvenate

There’s nothing wrong with sleeping in, if your kids will allow it. Work with your partner to take breaks and relax. Try not to plan too much.  Take it easy. I have definteily tried to fit too much into the day before, and “take advantage” of my time. But as I get older, I realize that less is more. Planning one thing a day is nice. Doing one chore, or none at all. Watch some netflix. I have been finishing up the Star Wars catalogue, in time for Episode 9. Whatever you thing is do it, and enjoy it. The days are coming when rest is hard to find and the stress will build. You will need some reserves in the bank.



2) Revisit Your Passions

Who ever said you can’t have passions no more? I mean, yes you are a leader, an educator, and like me you might be a parent. But your passions matter. I know you signed up to teach and educate, but I know somewhere deep down there you have another passion. Might be your primary one. For me, I have so many, hip hop, basketball, design, travel, and nature. I will try to play at least one game of basketball or go and shoot around. Shit, I have keys to the gym. I just need to go there. Speaking of hip hop, I built a studio that I never use at school, so I am hoping to write something to a new beat to record it when I get back. These passions will propel you. even if you only get to do them, every so often. You will need them.


3) Spend Time with Your Family

Do something outdoors or indoors. Hot cocoa and a movie? A long walk? A few trips to the playground. What ever makes it happen for you, do it. Your family is all that matters. All this other bullshit, is bullshit. No one is going to visit your grave, or sing your praises about how awesome a Principal or Leader you were. There may be some memories of you, but there will be another leader coming, good or bad, and another one after that. Who will remember you? Who will apprecaite you? Your family. Loved ones. Significant others. Children. Siblings. They will love you, if you love them back.

This took me a long time to realize. I knew I wanted to settle down and have a family, but I was chasing accolades for too long. I was prioritizing me, but not really me. I was prioritizing a system, and moving up a system. More power, more control, more access. I wasn’t thinking bigger. 7 generations ahead. 7 generations behind. When I started to think of family, things shifted. My wife and daughter, and bout to be 2nd daughter are helping that. They keep me stable and more balanced.


4) Revisit your Goals for this School Year

It’s easy to get to the midpoint of the year, and realize that you have deviated from your goals. If you haven’t looked at your original goals. Remember when you sat down and said, we are going here, we are doing this. Did you get there? Are you closer? Did you get distracted by the shiny object? Did you push too hard and face resistance? Did you push too soft and not see enough progress? Did you forget to monitor progress, or share your observations? Did you forget to fund your goal, allocate time to it.

Take a look at these goals and think what is between where you are and where you are headed. Let folks know this. Start moving. Start small. Think big, but start small. Make some micro goals for each month, relative to your big goals.


5) Get a jump start on your resolution (health is wealth)

Take care of your body and it will take care of your mind. I challenge you to do a daily fitness challenge. That might be a number of pushups or pullup each day. Squats or if you’re really trying to do it, burpees! Lots of folks will wait until January top start doing the right thing. Do it now. Start with a small walk around the block, or more if you are feeling strong. Pick something you can do each day, and commit. This break will give you a good 15 days to get busy. That’s half a month and you can be well on your way to progress. I am focused on pushups, pullups, and steps. A few jogs around the neighborhood, every other day, and maybe more week 2. It’s doable.

If you can pick something that you can sustain, this will keep you sain when the work gets hardest. I read somewhere that it doesn’t matter if you can go to the gym once a week, and go hell hard. The person doing something small, every day, every day, will get more results and feel the effects. a 7 minute homeworkout, quick yoga routine, or jumping rope. Do it daily.


6) Read an AntiRacist Book or watch some videos

Never a bad idea to break out that book you been avoiding. I have a good list of 24+ Anti-Racist Books for Educators here, to get you started. Pick one and read a little each day. A paragraph, a page, maybe more if you have the time. This will send you back to the school year with some new purpose, vision, and energy. You might even incorporate it into your practice. You never know.

I will be reading Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an AntiRacist. I was hooked when I first got it and then October/November hit me like a Tokyo to Kyoto bullet train. I am coming back up for air and looking forward to reading a few chapters. Maybe more if I get rolling.


7) Eat Healthy

Ok, this is the hardest, for me at least. Back to resolutions, you might say that you need to “start” eating right. But the holidays always seem to throw off my progress. But when I am focused before them, I can be more diligent and strongminded in the face of high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and gluten. I might have a cheat day, where I eat hella pies, but I won’t be doin it all 2 weeks long.

I have been trying to cut breads, pastas, and candies, since the start of the semester. Hard as hell, but I am making progress for sure. These habits will jump start you into the new year, and we know that stress will have you looking for powdered donuts or ben, jerry, and their homies.



So look, you’re only to get to some of these and that’s cool. You don’t need to master anything, just get the ball rolling. You want to return to school, as a stronger leader. A more focused one. More balanced. This requires rest and intentionality. You can do it. It’s your life. And it starts today!

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